Australian Bureau of Statistics
2009.0 - Information Paper: 2001 Census of Population and Housing, ABS Views on Census Output Strategy, 2001
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/09/1999
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The Paper sets out strategies to achieve these goals and provides the broad directions of the proposed 2001 Census Output Program.
The ABS would like to hear your views regarding the strategies and proposals outlined in this Paper. The enclosed questionnaire has been specifically drawn up for this purpose. In addition, the ABS welcomes comments on other output related issues that you want considered before the ABS finalises its output plans for the next Census.
Based on the results of this consultation, the ABS will develop specific proposals for the 2001 Census Output Program, including the development of prototypes for 2001 Census products and services. Details of these prototypes will be circulated for comment in July 2000.
3. KEY 2001 CENSUS OUTPUT STRATEGIES
To achieve the major goals set out above, the following key strategies are proposed:
3.1 Internet and Email
A major development in information dissemination during the past five years has been the increased use of the Internet and email across all sectors of the community. In 1998, one in three businesses had access to the Internet and a similar proportion used email (Source: Business Use of Information Technology, 1997-98 Cat. no. 8133.0). The expectation is that these numbers will continue to grow. Developing a strategy to address the increased demand for dissemination via the Internet and email is a major thrust of the Census Output Program.
The proposed strategy comprises five broad proposals on which views are sought:
Standardised user interfaces will be used wherever possible for applications. Whatever method a client employs to access either the free-of-charge community service component or the priced data from the ABS web site, a similar interface will be presented. The data content and extent of functionality will differ depending on the application, but the 'look and feel' will be similar. This proposal is subject to on-going development of prototypes which will be designed in consultation with users.
Email was first used as a means of data delivery for the dissemination of 1996 Census data. It was popular with users and will be further developed for the 2001 Census, including effective methods of setting up links between email and the ABS web site.
There are no widely accepted standards for overall design, presentation and functionality of web pages. While the overall presentation of the ABS web site is not within the scope of this information paper, users are invited to express their views about the structure and presentation of census related material on the ABS web site from a functional point of view.
In addition to your views on the above proposals, the enclosed questionnaire contains questions related to Internet use and future intentions. We are also seeking your views on the way you wish to deal with the financial aspects of acquiring ABS data (refer question 10).
3.2 Timely and responsive range of output
The 1996 Census output strategy of release in two phases was successful and will be repeated in 2001. The ABS will continue to provide a full range of Census-specific products and services designed to satisfy the majority of clients' needs. The range of data to be made available in the first release will be increased while maintaining a similar release schedule as the 1996 Census cycle.
Data will continue to be provided in an appropriate format so that it may be presented in combination with other ABS data. In some products it will also be provided in other standard industry formats for use with most PC-based spreadsheet software packages.
3.2.1 Two phase release of data
For the 1996 Census a two-phase processing and dissemination strategy was implemented which gave users access to a wide range of first release Census data within 12 months of the Census, with the second release data released progressively from that time.
This two stage release approach was well received by users and a similar strategy will be implemented for 2001 with one major change. It is proposed to make available the second release data for all States and Territories on the same day, scheduled for November 2002, rather than a progressive release as in the 1996 Census cycle.
Another major change planned for the 2001 Census output program is to increase the number of data items to be included in the first release. The most significant inclusions are some Family and Relationship in Household variables.
A list of variables proposed for inclusion in the First and Second Releases is provided in Appendix 1.
3.2.2 First release of Standard data
The first release Basic Community Profile (BCP) data will be available in July 2002. Selected BCP data will also be available at the launch date in a National hardcopy publication and in applications on the ABS web site.
The BCP, available down to the Collection District (CD) level, will be similar in format to the 1996 BCP. You will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed data content of the Profiles in July 2000.
It is proposed that only a National hardcopy publication is released on the launch day, with State and Territory publications released shortly thereafter. The National publication will contain 1996 and 2001 Census data for all Statistical Divisions (SD) within each State and Territory, and will include brief comparison tables with 1901, 1996 and 2001 data for States, Territories and Capital City SDs, ranked tables and the BCP for Australia. Person counts on a Usual Residence or Estimated Resident Population basis may also be included.
3.3 CD-ROM Products
The 1996 Census Output Program saw a significant expansion in the number and complexity of CD-ROM products.
CDATA96 was developed and released with full MapInfo Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, and provided significantly more complex functionality than was available in CDATA91. This change was in response to user demand. The ABS is interested in your views of the options proposed in section 4.4, one of which is to produce a less complex product to meet the needs of a wider range of users.
The add-on Community Profile Datapaks which were designed for easy import into CDATA96 were not greatly used. It is proposed that the Datapaks be discontinued for the 2001 Census. The data will still be made available in a standard format suitable for import into CDATA but would not have a seamless interface. This will improve the timeliness of these data relative to the availability of other Census products.
KEYDATA provided access to the full range of Community Profiles and Digital Boundaries for use with users' own software. Due to the low demand for this delivery mechanism, it is proposed to discontinue this product in 2001. However, the reference material part of this product will continue to be made available on CD-ROM and via the ABS web site.
The development of the encryption program in 1996 Census CD-ROM products caused delays. For 2001, alternative, more efficient encryption programs will be investigated.
Free technical assistance was provided to all users of 1996 electronic products. Feedback received indicated that users found this service very effective. The ABS will continue to provide this service for 2001 Census and will be investigating options to further improve service efficiency.
3.4 Pricing of Census products and services
Since the 1986 Census, all products and services have been priced in accordance with the Government's 'user-pays' policy. This policy has enabled the ABS to extend and improve the range of products and services available from the Census. The following ABS objectives in charging are consistent with the 'user-pays' policy:
Dissatisfaction was expressed by some purchasers of large, complex 1996 Census Customised Tables in relation to the cell-based pricing formula. Some users indicated that there appeared to be some inconsistencies in pricing of the first and second releases of the Profile data, accessed on release, and the Profile data contained in CDATA. To address these concerns, the procedures to implement the pricing policy for the 2001 Census will emphasise:
The basis of this policy will continue to be the allocation of products to classes:
It is expected that most individual products will be included in the same class as in 1996.
3.5 Meeting Community Service Obligations
The ABS will continue to provide results of the Census, free of charge, for community access to meet the ABS' Community Service Obligations (CSO). This is in line with the ABS mission to assist informed decision making, research and discussion, and will be done in a number of ways:
It is proposed to make these products available through the Internet (see section 3.1).
4. DIRECTIONS FOR 2001 CENSUS PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
4.1 Community Profiles
Community Profiles are sets of tables containing key Census characteristics of persons, families, households and dwellings covering most topics on the Census form. Community Profiles are available in a number of electronic formats and in hard copy.
The majority of requests for information from the 1996 Census were answered through data from one of the Community Profiles. The Profile series will be continued for the 2001 Census and will be similar in format to the 1996 Profiles.
Users of Profile data in electronic format will continue to receive, at no additional cost, easy to use manipulation software which allows the data to be selected, viewed, aggregated and exported.
1991 Profiles included some series showing the proportions of a variable in each class. This was withdrawn in 1996 output but may be reinstated in selected tables in 2001.
4.1.1 The Basic Community Profile
The Basic Community Profile (BCP) is the standard product from which most other standard products are created. The BCP is available for all standard Census geographic areas from Collection District (CD) to total Australia, and regions derived from closest matching CD(s) such as postal areas, suburbs and State and Commonwealth Electoral Divisions.
The data content of the BCP used in 1996 will be reviewed in consultation with users, commencing in July 2000, to ensure that the 2001 Census product contains tables which continue to meet across-the-board, general user needs.
4.1.2 Other Community Profiles
The Profiles currently planned for release from the 2001 Census are described below. The proposed content which is expected to be similar to that of the 1996 Census series, will be published in a Paper to be released, as part of the consultative process, in July 2000. Templates of the content of all Community Profiles will be included in reference material and on the ABS web site following analysis of responses to that publication.
Indigenous Profile will contain data for the ABS geographic classification relevant to Indigenous peoples including ATSIC Regions. This profile will be produced in two stages, corresponding to the two phase release strategy for the BCP.
Time Series Profile (TSP) will contain comparative data tables based on the 2001 Census SLA boundaries for the 1991, 1996 and 2001 Censuses. The information in this profile is restricted to variables in which meaningful comparisons can be made over time. Footnotes will be included to indicate conceptual and classificatory changes over the reference periods.
Usual Residents Profile will contain tables, similar to those of the BCP, but relate to people usually resident in an SLA and contacted in the 2001 Census. The tables exclude both overseas visitors counted in the Census and usual residents of Australia overseas on Census night.
Expanded Community Profile will contain more tables and provide greater classificatory detail than the BCP. This profile is available for SLA and aggregates of SLAs.
Working Population Profile will contain tables, similar to those of the BCP, concentrating on labour force and related characteristics of employed people. In the 1996 Census this profile was restricted to people who work in SLAs within capital cities and major urban areas. Subject to satisfactory testing it is planned to extend application of this profile to all SLAs in Australia.
The indicative timetable for release of these profiles is set out in Section 6.
Census publications provide easily accessible and basic census information to many users. Statistics are available in three types of publications: Statistical which contain tables with some descriptive commentary, Thematic which present data on a particular theme with significant amount of analysis and commentary, and State/Territory-specific which contain information of local interest.
4.2.1 Selected Characteristics
The Selected Characteristics series which provide Census counts for small areas (SLAs) is of importance to users of Census data as it has been produced in similar form since the 1911 Census and thus provides a link to the earliest days of Australia as a Federation.
The 1996 Census publications were very well received and only minor changes are proposed for 2001.
As indicated in 3.2.2 the first release of 2001 Census data will be launched with publication of a national bulletin containing selected social and housing characteristics at the Statistical Division (SD) level for the 1996 and 2001 Censuses. In recognition of the 2001 Census coinciding with the Centenary of Federation of Australia it is also planned to include a small amount of comparable information from the 1901 Census.
Once the national publication has been released, a series of State and Territory publications will be released shortly after. As for the 1996 Census these will include:
Selected Social and Housing Characteristics for SLAs (Cat no 2015.1-8) will contain first release data for SLAs within a State or Territory and the first release BCP for that State or Territory.
Selected Educational and Labour Force Characteristics for SLAs (Cat no 2017.0-8) will contain second release data for SLAs within a State or Territory and the second release BCP for that State or Territory.
Selected Characteristics for Urban Centres and Localities (Cat no 2016.0-7) will contain both first and second release data for UCLs.
The indicative timetable for release of these publications is set out in Section 6.
4.2.2 Social Atlases
It is planned to continue the very successful Social Atlas series produced for each Capital City since the 1981 Census. The format and content of the Atlases will be determined through user consultation.
4.2.3 Thematic publications
A range of social reports, incorporating Census data along with other ABS and non-ABS data will be produced for the 2001 Census. The range and content of these reports will be reviewed and users will be advised of proposals in the Census Update newsletter.
4.3 Customised data services
If your needs are more specialised it is probable that, as in the 1996 Census, they will need to be met through customised data services. Technological improvements leading to the provision of a faster and less expensive Customised Table Service, led to an increase in demand for customised tables. This service was generally well accepted. The focus for the 2001 Census cycle will be on improving the processes involved in the diagnosis and processing of client specifications for complex tabulations.
The Advance Ordering Service provided an opportunity for users to specify tables before the processing of the Census commenced, reducing the delay between data release and access to specialised cross-classifications. The turnaround time for delivering 1996 Census Advance Order tables was significantly improved in most cases. It is proposed to continue this service for the 2001 Census.
The 1996 Thematic Profile Service provided a range of profiles similar in concept to the Community Profiles, but covering particular topics. The Service provided the flexibility to specify particular population groups and user-defined geographic areas including aggregations of CDs. Due to the low demand for Thematic Profiles it is proposed to be withdrawn as a standard service for 2001. It is expected that in 2001 users' requirements for information about specific population subgroups will be better served through customised tabulations.
CDATA96 contains the BCP, TSP, digital boundaries and base map data, with MapInfo GIS software to produce tables, maps and graphs for geographic areas ranging from a single Collection District to an entire State/Territory or total Australia. CDATA96 allows the user to export data for use in other applications, and to import other data from a variety of formats into the system. The 'Quickbuild' interface was seen as a great strength of the product although some users did not find the MapInfo software easy to use.
The release strategy for CDATA2001 will be similar to CDATA96 but the focus for the 2001 Census will be on reducing the lag between data release and the release of this CD-ROM product. The ABS is considering a number of options to overcome this problem, including:
A Computer Based Training (CBT) module was included with the software but it was poorly utilised. Market research has indicated that users opt for classroom style training in preference to using on-line tutorials. Screencam demonstrations and simple on-line tutorials will be included in the software but it is proposed that the full CBT module is not developed for 2001. Face-to-face training will be provided on a cost-recovery basis.
4.5 Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) are summary measures derived from the Census to measure different aspects of socio-economic conditions by geographic area. The indexes are compiled for all standard geographic areas from Collection District to State/Territory.
It is expected that the indexes for 2001 will be prepared following the same statistical techniques as in 1996, although the variables included in each index may differ depending on the relevant socio-economic priorities at time of development.
The 1996 Census product was seen as a vast improvement over the 1991 Census product, particularly in terms of its ease-of-use. The product will continue to be provided both as a stand-alone product and as an add-on module to CDATA. For 2001, it will be designed for clients' network use.
KEYDATA was a new Census CD-ROM product containing a large volume of Census and digital boundary data which could be exported for use with industry standard software packages. It was designed to provide fast, easy access to the data which were stored on the CD-ROM in an encrypted format, with access enabled using a decryption key provided on receipt of an order. Reference data and information about all 1996 Census products were also provided.
As indicated in section 3.3 above, this product was not demanded by users and it is proposed to withdraw it for 2001. However, it is proposed to produce a CD-ROM containing the reference information including the Census Dictionary, product catalogues, sample data and hotlinks to access the ABS web site, which will be available free of charge.
4.7 Household Sample File
The Household Sample File (HSF) is a sample file containing a one per cent sample of unidentifiable records for private dwellings and associated persons, and for persons in non private dwellings. The release of the 2001 Census HSF will allow researchers to undertake detailed analyses and use them in conjunction with the Community Profiles to explore the statistical relationships of the issue under investigation.
The ABS and the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee (AVCC) will continue arrangements put in place in 1998 to allow academic access to the HSF for a single fixed annual fee. This access will be limited to use of the data for academic research and teaching purposes only.
4.8 Geography Products
The ABS intends to continue to licence the supply of 2001 Census digital boundaries to external organisations. ABS will be encouraging as many organisations to participate to ensure users can be provided with a wide range of formats whilst ensuring continued price competition.
Collection District (CD) and Statistical Local Area (SLA) maps will again be produced for the 2001 Census. The CD maps show the requested CD's boundary, the code assigned to it, and a range of topographic and cadastral features. The SLA maps show the boundary of an SLA and the CD boundaries contained within, the codes assigned to them, and selected topographic details and will provide sufficient detail for most users to relate the statistical information to the area of interest. The maps will be available for purchase in electronic form using a generic display format. Hard copies of these maps will be printed on demand for a small additional charge. Customised reference and thematic maps of user-specified Census characteristics will continue to be provided as a customised service.
Information about the different geographies used within the Census will continue to be provided in publications and electronic formats. This includes information supplied in concordance files, geographic reference files and as customised geographic data reports.
4.9 State and Territory Office products
State and Territory Offices of the ABS will again produce a small number of standard products to meet local needs and to complement other products and services.
5. RANDOM PERTURBATION
In accordance with the Census and Statistics Act 1905, no results will be released in a way which would enable particular individuals or households to be identified. The random perturbation method used to protect the confidentiality of individuals in Census tables in 1996 Census output was to separately aggregate and then make slight random adjustments to the tabulated data. This meant that the adjusted figures for each geographic level were close to the actual figures. It is proposed that this method will be repeated for 2001 Census output .
6. INDICATIVE TIMETABLE
In accordance with the strategy outlined above, the following indicative timetable for 2001 Census key products and services is proposed:
APPENDIX 1 - 2001 CENSUS VARIABLES
Variables proposed for First Release
Variables proposed for Second Release
APPENDIX 2 - SELECTED 1996 CENSUS PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
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This page last updated 4 January 2007